Choosing Hope in the Face of Despair

I feel despair quite a bit.

That may surprise people who know me personally.

I doubt very much that I come across as a person who experiences a lot of despair.

I doubt that any of my family or friends would ever say “Ed, you sure are filled with despair”.

And yet, the honest truth is that my heart is often filled with despair.

Not for anything in my own life, mind you. I don’t think I’m THAT important. :)

But when I look around at the world, yes, the truth is that I feel a lot of despair.

Despair is the price one pays for self-awareness. Irvin Yalom Click to Tweet

I feel despair when my wife tells me about a horrific case of dog abuse here in Bogota, Colombia. (she recently helped rescue a dog that had an eye cut out and was skin and bones).

I feel despair when I read about all the people from Syria who are fleeing their country, many of whom will live for years in refugee camps, with little or no hope for a future for themselves or their children.

I feel despair when I hear about all the people all over the world who are just struggling to survive, doing awful jobs that I can’t even imagine.

I feel despair when I think of all the children who want to go to school but are denied the opportunity because they had the misfortune to be born into poverty.

I feel despair when I read about the awful living conditions and treatment of animals in factory farms and in slaughterhouses, before they’re sold for food.

I feel despair when I read a book about human trafficking and sex trafficking, and I wonder how human beings can still treat each other that way in the 21st century.

I feel despair with every case of rape, every case of sexual abuse, every case of physical abuse.

I feel despair what I learn that climate change is happening much faster than scientists predicted, and that we’ve likely already passed the point of no return.

I feel despair that a significant portion of people from my country feel that Donald Trump represents the best choice for president.

When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something. Dmitri Shostakovich Click to Tweet

All of these things and many, many more fill my heart with despair. And I can’t pretend that these things don’t happen, that they don’t exist.

Of course, I can do my part to try and improve these conditions but my efforts often feel so futile compared to the enormity of the problems.

Which just fills my heart with even more despair.

And yet.

And yet.

And yet.

And yet, I chose not to give into my feelings of despair.

I chose the path of hope.

I chose hope over and over and over again.

Not out of any desire for personal happiness.

And not because I can also read plenty of positive stories of people who are fighting to improve conditions around the world.

And not because of a deep seated belief that at some level people are basically good.

No, it’s not for any of those reasons, even though they all have value.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the heart. Emily Dickinson Click to Tweet

I chose hope for the very simple reasons that ultimately it’s the only path that makes sense to me.

If I give up hope for a better future for our planet, for the animals, for humanity, than I will have given up everything.

And that I refuse to do.

The power to chose hope in any situation is a precious gift and it’s one that I cling to like a life boat.

The truth is that my heart feels a bit like Humpty Dumpty.

It gets broken every single day, sometimes several times a day.

And every time, I tape it back up, using all the hope that I can muster.

Hope is what keeps my heart alive.

Hope is being able to see light despite all of the darkness. Dalia Lama Click to Tweet

I leave you with this message.

I don’t know if you feel despair the way that I do.

And if you do, maybe it’s for some of the same reasons. Or maybe it’s for completely different reasons.

Either way, I urge you to find hope and to chose hope.

Find hope in whatever way that works for you and for whatever reason that works for you.

And when you find hope, plant it in strong soil, and water it, and let it grow strong.

The world doesn’t doesn’t need you giving into despair.

The world needs you choosing hope and living in hope, no matter what it takes.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Very nicely said, Ed! It is, I think, too easy for a feeling person to feel despair given the state of the world, our country, society, etc. Like you, I do feel despair, but also like you, I prefer to choose to be positive.

    Positivity has become very important to me in the past 9 years. Of course, I have my days when I am lazy or sad and give in to the dark, but most of the time, I prefer to expect the best of my day and stay positive.

    1. Thanks Sheri! I agree that it can be a challenge to remain hopeful, particularly, nowadays, when it’s much easier to access all the negative news. Still, the path of hope is absolutely worthwhile and necessary…

  2. Hope, yes, and faith. They go together hand-in-hand. While I may have hope that everything will be okay in the end, my faith assures me it will.

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts expressed here, Ed, and I like your new style of writing from your heart. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    1. Thanks Rob, really appreciate the positive input!

  3. What a lovely uplifting post Ed! Yes, this world of ours has no shortage of despair triggers if we allow ourselves to buy into it. But the thing is the more people who multiply the despair state, the more it will immobilize us and prevent positive change. As you say, the more people who consciously unplug from despair triggers and choose hope and positive action (regardless of what a drop in the ocean it seems – what is the ocean except a lot of drops) the more we multiply that state. This is where positive change is possible. Thank you for sharing this uplifting message.

    1. Thanks Pamina! You’re absolutely right that despair prevent us from working towards positive change. And of course, we can never see the bigger picture, we can only do our best and know that there are lots of others around the world who are doing the same.

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